Virginia Viewpoint – March 4, 2022 – Virginia’s legislative March Madness
March 4, 2022
March 4, 2022
March Madness is beginning to take hold and not just in the basketball arena. The Virginia General Assembly has less than 11 days left in the 2022 Session and Budget bills have passed out of both chambers and are in the bosom of the money committees. Staff of the Senate Finance & Appropriations and House Appropriations committees will be working to get the respective budgets in a posture to be hashed by the Budget conferees.
The Republican controlled House budget has included money for school construction, teacher pay raises and bonuses for public employees and tax relief (including suspending the gas tax increase and eliminating the sales tax on groceries). The Senate’s budget differs with more education funding and less in tax relief. These differences will need to be worked out when the Budget conferees meet leading up to adjournment of Session on March 12. Youngkin has already met with budget conferees and leadership to begin work on the budget.
Once a budget is approved it will be sent to Governor Youngkin who will then review and send down budget amendments for the April 27 Reconvened Session.
Employer/Labor: SB 631 (Barker) employer liability; overtime, passed both houses and will be sent to the Governor;
Workforce Development: HB 191 (Hodges) passed the House and is in Senate General Laws;
Labor bills: SB 352 (Surovell) which requires employers to provide paid sick leave to health care providers, grocery store workers and home health workers was killed in a House subcommittee and SB 624 (Favola) which only applies to home health workers has not been heard yet in House Commerce & Energy:
Workers Comp: presumption as to death or disability from COVID-19, extends exp. to Dec 31, 2022, HB 932 (Robinson) passed out of a Senate committee but SB 181 (Saslaw) was killed in the House subcommittee;
Freezing or lowering gas tax: HB 1144 (Webert) was killed in Senate Finance;
Wage bills: minimum wage bills HB 296 (McNamara) and SB 173 (Peake) both were killed in the Senate Commerce & Labor committee;
Cannabis: SB 391 (Ebbin) retail market cannabis bill was quietly carried over in a House subcommittee on Monday delaying any retail sales until at least 2023; SB 591 (Hanger) prohibiting the sale of marijuana products in certain shapes and including provisions to address chemically synthesized cannabinoids, including delta-8 THC, will be up for a House floor vote.
Other notable legislation: SB 203 (Morrissey) adding Petersburg to the list of cities to host a casino was killed in the Senate. The City of Richmond is still considering another vote on their previously defeated referendum to bring a casino to the city but they may face a legal challenge. Virginia Football Stadium Authority bills SB 727 (Saslaw) and HB 1353 (Knight) have passed and will be worked on in conference.
Review legislation from the Virginia Legislative Information System LIS
Co-Chaired by Cozen’s Julia Hammond, the Annual Capitol Square Basketball Classic was held at the VCU Siegel Center pitting the skilled basketball prowess of Governor Youngkin and his office against the tenacious lobbying team. In a thriller, Governor Youngkin’s son hit the game winning shot giving the Governor’s team the win. In the House vs Senate game, the House pulled out a win over the hard scrabbling Senate team. While fun was had, the main purpose of the game was to raise money for the VCU Massey Cancer Center and over $50,000 was raised for this most worthy cause.
By TEO ARMUS, Washington Post (Metered Paywall – 3 articles a month)
Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) on Tuesday issued his first veto since taking office, blocking part of an effort by one of the most liberal jurisdictions in Virginia to ramp up independent accountability of its police force. The bill he vetoed would have allowed the Arlington County Board, rather than the county manager, to hire an auditor to investigate possible police misconduct. The measure received bipartisan support, passing the GOP-controlled House of Delegates on a 65-to-35 vote.
By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall – 7 articles a month)
The Senate Finance & Appropriations Committee isn’t budging from its positions on Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s package of tax cuts as it prepares for negotiations with the House of Delegates over budgets that are $3 billion apart in spending. The committee rejected an attempt by Sen. Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg, one of Youngkin’s closest allies in the General Assembly, to approve a proposal to double the standard deduction for state income tax filers instead of sending the idea to a special tax policy subcommittee to study over the next year.
By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall – 7 articles a month)
House Republicans on Monday killed legislation intended to kick start the legal sale of recreational marijuana in Virginia, arguing that there is not enough time to perfect the complex legislation, while promising to address it next year. Virginia last year became the first state in the South to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, an effort led by Democrats, who then had sweeping power. Lawmakers in 2021 punted the creation of a new legal market to the current session in an effort that appeared to fail on Monday.
By TANNOCK BLAIR, WRIC-TV
The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that intends to make Parole Board votes public. The bill, listed as Senate Bill 5, passed with bipartisan support and a majority vote of 96-3 in the chamber last week. It is now headed to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s desk where it is expected to be signed.
By JACKIE LLANOS HERNANDEZ, Virginia Mercury
Legislation creating a plan to expand affordable broadband access across the commonwealth is on the way to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s desk with broad bipartisan support. HB 1265, by Del. Suhas Subramanyam, D-Loudoun, charges the state Department of Housing and Community Development with creating a plan to deliver recommendations to the General Assembly and Youngkin by Dec. 1. Designing a map and blueprint to establish the areas in the state that are in most need of broadband access is among the tasks agency will have to tackle before the end of the year.
By GARY BOYER, WFXR-TV
Gov. Glenn Youngkin updated Virginia’s COVID-19 Action Plan this week. The plan continues the Commonwealth’s commitment to providing additional COVID-19 vaccine events across Virginia, as well as grand flexibilities to health care workers and reaffirmed his commitment to chart a pathway to normalcy.
The plastic dividers that have separated lawmakers in the Virginia Senate in the name of COVID-19 prevention are coming down. Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar and other members of the Senate staff were working to remove the tall, shiny barriers from the chamber after Monday’s floor session concluded. The plastic panels that separated lawmakers’ desks, which Republicans had complained amounted to cages, were being disassembled and carried out.
By PATRICK WILSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall – 7 articles a month)
Democrats on a Senate committee killed a House bill on Monday that would have restored State Corporation Commission oversight over the bonanza of energy projects approved in a 2020 law. The bill from Del. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, would have amended the Virginia Clean Economy Act, the legislation Democrats passed in 2020 to transition Virginia off the use of fossil fuels for electricity generation and promote the use of solar and wind energy.
By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury
A controversial proposal to forbid local governments from banning or limiting use of natural gas has been dropped after House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore revamped a bill Tuesday in a bid to ensure legislation providing businesses with certainty about gas service makes it through the Senate. . . . The new version of House Bill 1257 presented Tuesday would prohibit any “public entity that provides natural gas utility service” from discontinuing service “generally or to any commercial or industrial customers” without providing three years of notice, undertaking certain negotiations and in some circumstances offering the system up for auction to the highest bidder. Only three localities would be affected by the legislation: the cities of Richmond, Charlottesville and Danville, all of which have municipal gas utilities.
By MARGARET KAVANAGH, WTKR-TV
An audit of the Virginia Employment Commission has highlighted major issues within the agency after an explosion of claims filed as a result of the pandemic. The report dissects problems that could have potentially cost taxpayers $400 million. The News 3 investigative team spoke to those impacted, the VEC commissioner and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin about the new findings.
By TEO ARMUS AND MICHAEL BRICE-SADDLER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall – 3 articles a month)
The U.S. Department of Labor is planning to roll out millions in funding to promote equity in unemployment insurance programs — and the District and Virginia will be two of the first to benefit. Employment agencies for the two jurisdictions were among the first selected to receive these new federal grants, which are meant to help claimants from traditionally marginalized backgrounds access unemployment benefits, Labor officials announced Tuesday.
By C. SUAREZ ROJAS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall – 7 articles a month)
Beginning next year, Richmond will cut business taxes for local companies by increasing an exemption threshold. Businesses will be exempt from the city’s Business, Professional and Occupational License tax for the first $250,000 generated annually, starting Jan. 1, 2023. Companies earning less will only need to pay a $30 annual fee, rather than a rate determined by the type of business
By TYLER THRASHER, WRIC-TV
Attorney General Jason Miyares has announced the final approval of the $26 billion opioid agreement between Cardinal, McKesson and Amerisource Bergen with Johnson & Johnson. The commonwealth expects to receive $530 million to fight the opioid crisis. According to a release by the office of the Attorney General, following successful state sign-on and subdivision sign-on periods, the defendants will start releasing funds to a national administrator on April 2, 2022. Money will start flowing to state and local governments in the second quarter of 2022.
By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press
Virginia lawmakers are advancing a measure intended to lure the Washington Commanders to the state by allowing the NFL team to forgo what could be $1 billion or more in future tax payments to help finance a potential new football stadium. The move, which comes a year after lawmakers gave the team preferential treatment for a lucrative sports betting permit, is intended to help Virginia secure its first major pro sports franchise and beat out Maryland and the District of Columbia as the team weighs where to go after its FedEx Field lease ends in 2027.
By ERIC FLACK, WUSA-TV
A Virginia congressman wants to sack a financial incentive package aimed at luring the Washington Commanders’ new stadium to the Commonwealth. U.S. Representative Don Beyer, a Democrat who represents Virginia’s 8th Congressional District in the heart of Northern Virginia, said stadium bond packages like the one working its way through the Virginia state legislature takes needed tax revenue out of the pockets of taxpayers all to benefit people who have more than enough money to build new stadiums on their own.
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